tv Charlie Rose PBS June 20, 2013 12:00am-1:01am PDT
>> rose: welcome to the program. tonight a look at the world of private equity with steve schwarzman the cofounder and ceo of the blackstone group. >> what we're doing at blackstone is we're committed to hire 50,000 veterans over the next five years. i feel really -- >> rose: 50,000. >> 50,000. we have quite a large operation in terms of one of our seven business lines which happens to be private equity. we own about 80 companies with $120 billion of revenue and 730,000 employees. so our ability to hire 50,000 shouldn't be really hard for us. >> rose: also actor alan cumming who currently stars in the scottish play at the barrymore theatre. >> what i go back to is that moment you're going to do
captioning sponsored by rose communications from our studios in new york city, this is charlie rose. >> rose: steve schwarzman here, he's the ceo of the blackstone group. he cofounded back stone in 1995 with peat peterson many it is now the world's largest investment firm with over dollars 200 billion under management. peace one of the most widely known leaders in private equity. he recently announced the schwarzman scholar program which will fund 200 students each year to study at one of china's best universities. i'm pleased to have steve schwarzman back on this program to talk about not only these philanthropic activities but also his look at the economy and his look at the alternative investment world. so welcome. >> good to be here. >> rose: let me start with
the chinese scholars program. is it your hope to do something like cecil rows did with the rhodes scholarship. >> absolutely. what he was doing was a little bit defendant he was taking people from the british empire fundmentally plus america and sending them to oxford. he started his scholarship in 1920 which reflected the 19th century. >> rose: what are you trying to do. >> i'm trying to be in the 21st century using the same model of attracting terrific kids who finished college for a year in graduate school. these are kids that are going to be successful anyhow. what we're trying to do is create a group of future leaders, thought leaders from around the world. so we're going to have 45%
americans, 20% chinese, and 35% from the rest of the world, from the top 20. >> rose: from latin america, from europe, from africa, from whatever. >> absolutely. and then what we're trying to do is introduce them to china. we're going to have the leaders of the country come and visit them. we're going to have them assigned mentors from the real world so if they're studying law for example, look at the head of the largest head firm in beijing to take them to work, show them how that works. meet their families. we're going to have them go around the country for two to three trips a year with professors to get a sense not just of the big cities but the way the rest of china works, so that these students can be not leaders when they go back to their countries. an issue we're trying to address is that if china continues growing at three times the western world, even if it falls to two times, it's creating 10 million jobs a year, and the west is producing at the bottom
of the cycle no jobs. that there's bound to be envy, unhappiness on the part of the west and large part because nobody ever blames themselves for their own failures. and that this can create a situation of hostility, from the west to china. then you get into a feedback loop from china to the best and you can end up with trade tensions, economic problems and military tensions. >> rose: one of the interesting thing is chinese leaders have been sending their kids to school including -- in harvard. one of the hopes they have and the world has is that they will come back with a view of the united states. that's different from what their parents might have had. >> i think that's right. the ratio, charlie is about eight to one.
in other words currently there are eight times the number of students coming from china, for example, to the united states as their americans going to china. >> rose: it's also the question of university. how did you choose this university. >> part of that was an accident. when we went public at blackstone in 2007, the chinese government bought 9.9%, they didn't even have the funds. it was actually the government. it was non-voting stock. and as part of that, i was asked to be on the board of the chenla school of economic development. that became my home base, if you will. and chenwa is one of the top two universities, it's where the current president of china went to school. it's where the previous president of china went to school. so it's pretty much of a power alley if you will in china so
it's a logical place. and actually chenwa was started in 1911 by americans as part of the boxer rebellion, china had to pay reparations to the united states. u.s. government basically said look, i don't want the money. you keep the money, you start a university. and it was chenwa so they have a natural orientation towards the state. >> rose: how does chinese feel about the investment in blackstone. >> we're close to even now with dividends. >> rose: there was a decline in your stock and they must have been a little bit ... >> what happened is a lot went down. we went down a lot less than the other ones. i just checked the other day and i think we're the fourth best performance stock in the financial area in the western world. and so they will be back to even pretty soon which is not a bad outcome. >> rose: i want to what
you're doing with veterans back to blackstone. >> rose: you and other people are enormously interested in veterans coming back from afghanistan finding jobs, finding a way because of the enormous contribution they made in having been away and having given so much for the country, have a chance to participate. what are you doing. >> what we're doing at blackstone is, we're committed to hire 50,000 veterans over the next five years. i feel really -- >> rose: 50,000. >> 50,000. we have quite a large operation in terms of one of our seven business lines, which happens to be private equity, we own about 80 companies with $120 billion of revenue and 730,000 employees. so our ability to hire 50,000 shouldn't be really hard for us.
i feel extremely strongly about this, and the reason is that the type of sacrifice that the people in the military make is hard to imagine for regular citizens. and as a result of the stress that they're under, there are 28 military people a day who return to civilian life who cit suicide. it's actually intolerable that that type of situation exists caused in part by high levels of unemployment. so to the extent our firm can provide a place where they can come to work and lead more well-adjusted lives, i think it's sort of a moral issue to do that. >> rose: do you hope other firms will look at what you're trying to do and say we should follow suit, we should make our own commitment to veterans. >> i also think it's good business.
these are people who are used to doing things when they're told. often taking a lot of initiative. >> rose: working together for life and death. >> used to working in teams. some people used to having command. i don't think this is meant to be a -- type of activity. i think it's good for us. >> rose: good for them. >> and it's good for them. >> rose: you gave $100 million , i may be wrong about that. >> that's true. >> rose: how do you decide about your philanthropic commitments. >> that's a great question. and i'm still developing the answer. i make major commitments where i see a major need. and there are many different areas where people find need and satisfy it. i happen to like things in the educational area. i believe that a great education
is a passport to a different type of life. and particularly in the world we're living in now, it's really essential. if i can help in various situations, have people have that boost, and have that advantage. i tend to respond to that. so at the library with a huge number of people, new york city, as you know, has people living here from around 140 countries or 170 countries, somewhere in that area, that the library serves people who don't have the advantages necessarily. some do, but it's a place where you know you can take out books, you have the advantage of librarians, you have computers. so just the opposite of what you might think. attendance at libraries is going way up. >> rose: when you make that kind of commitment, what is your
standard of accountability? i mean, in this case, i assume you didn't do this because you wanted your name on the bill, you wanted to do this because you wanted to make a difference and you want to make sure if you're given that level of a gift, that the money is spent wisely. >> well, the advantage here is that i knew how they were going to spend it. and the reason i responded to this -- >> rose: that was because of negotiations that takes place. >> no, this is because i was on the board of the library. and they hired one of the major consulting firms to figure out how to reconfigure the library system, create a modern lending library in the main branch of the library, and be able to deliver better services and put them says in better financial shape. it's a terrific plan. and so what happened is the head of the library came over to visit me, as these things tend to work, and suggested that you know i give them $100 million. they could then have a lead gift to implement their plan. so you get a multiplier of close
to a billion dollars. and you know, they said by the way, we put your name on the building and i said sure, sounds like a great thing. because of the numerous meetings on how this program, a whole reinvig inrig valuation of thew income people. i also do major support for the parochial school system in new york. why do that. that's an easy one. they have the same basic ethnic mix and economic mix of lower income people. and they graduate 99% of their kids where the public schools are somewhere around 50. so my wife and i are supporting
that because it chierntionz -- changes the lives of these people. they 90% that goes to college. it's transformational. there are other things that i haven't disclosed that tap into that. i like education as a vehicle for changing people's lives. >> rose: and given an opportunity. >> exactly. >> rose: you said you have seven lines of business, one is obviously private equity, one is hedge nunldz, third is real estate. what are the four. >> well, we have a large credit business that does average credit. m and a advisory business. we have a troubled company restructuring business. and we raised money for other people in the alternative assay classes from institutional investors. >> rose: so what's the investor climate like in 2013? >> there are a variety of
questions imbedded in that one question. the basic economy around the world is okay. the u.s. is growing somewhere around 2.5%. >> rose: better than europe but not as good as china. >> and purpose's pretty much hit the bottom where it's going to go. it's gather no net gross now and asia has slowed down. it's getting close to a bottom, and we'll have global growth somewhere in the 3.5%, 3.75% zone. so we're not looking at things going backwards. potentially a little bit in asia with you there's still plenty of growth there. china for example, escort of a worst case most people look at would be 6 to 7. the chinese themselves are thinking 7 to 8 to just be not put a precise point to it. any time you have major countries growing at that level, somebody may be critical, it's a
little slower than the old 9 or 10 but it's still remarkable. so the overall environment isn't as pessimistic if you will, as it's been. u.s. in particular is quite interesting because we have a revolution going on in the energy business in the united states, which is presenting -- >> rose: what impact on the united states in terms of making it energy dependent. >> what happens is our price of natural gas is going to be way below world levels. and that's going to enable us theoretically to do all kinds of things. first, it's a clean feulg which is a very important environmental thing. second, because it's cheap, we're going to be able to
attract companies from around the world to locate in the united states in the petro chemical area and all kind of allied types of businesses. third, we're going to convert over time to to gas power in utilities, which is pretty cheap. we could convert cars to natural gas. the amount of money that we would save in the united states would be the equivalent to a peace dividend. plustles we'd have a clean fuel. we use natural gas in a lot of cities for buses. and it will be the natural logical fuel for the united states. >> rose: better source of propulsion for cars than electric? >> you got to make electricity. so you could look at it i guess.
you would have to build electric plants and so forth. i look at this just in terms of dreaming as to what the united states could become. as a result of this. >> rose: so the united states could become what? >> oh, could significantly increase its growth rate, we can be attracting companies investment from all over the world because we have such cheap energy and we have a rule of law here. and we have safety, and not all the places where you produce energy have rule of law or are safe. or don't have threatening neighbors very close by or instability in their populations. so this can be a kick start for new economic age in america, if you were to dream. >> rose: you have been a republican, a strong support of
republicans including governor romney. what do you worry about president obama and his economic stewardship of the country? >> well, we've already had four years. we had an election and the president won. and so the public has spoken about a lot of issues. and i think that it's important that everybody try and make the country work as effectively as it can. i think he's trying to do that. he's not having, you know, enormous success legislatively. i think his heart is in the right place. >> rose: he may get immigration reform and obviously gun control's a very different issue. >> rose: i think the immigration reform is something everybody pretty much wants. it's something that the democrats have promised and it's something the republicans need.
and the president wants it, so you have the two houses of government all set up, you have the president and its an important thing for the country at large. so the chance if that happens should be pretty good. and i think on the economic side, what they need to do is really complete all these regulatory reforms. i think with individual tax reform, that something closer to a flat tax is much more equitable. you can have two different levels or maybe even three. >> rose: so move away from progressivity. >> it's not moving away from progressivity because you'll always have some. but if you got rid of almost all deductions and just let everybody know what they have to pay. they'll pay it. and stop with these tax preferences. so for example, everywhere in
the world that i know of where they've gone to that system, they raise more money. the society does really well. i mean hong kong is a case in point. russia did the same thing. and -- >> rose: so no matter where your economic status is you pay the same rate. >> no, i didn't say that. that's one version of a flat tax. if you believe in progressivity, you could have a higher rate. but the key is make it simple so nobody can cheat. and include a broad group and you'll raise more money. it will be simpler. and the chips should fall where they do. >> rose: most people i know who talk about tax reform start with the idea of you could eliminate some deductions and therefore in some cases lower rates and corporate rates in addition. >> yes. >> rose: why isn't there more
why do you think we don't have more movement for that. >> my experience with change is i happen to be personally very comfortable with it. most people aren't. they don't like change. they don't know how it's going to work for them. they know how their lives work. they know how a system works and they don't like to think about different alternatives. this one happens to be pretty straightforward and ease. >> rose: where do you stand on carried interest. >> that's one of many things. >> rose: it ought to be considered in terms reform. >> i think we have a whole system that needs to be reformed. it's only been around for 80 years. this is not some kind of new thing that's been developed. >> rose: you think it's equitable. >> i think it doesn't matter what i think. we have a country that needs more revenue, and we have a focus on an issue.
i think this issue will be dealt with in the context of a broader type of arrangement. and if we have that kind of smart broader thing, it's people are paying more tax, some people, that's okay. >> rose: i think you're the largest real estate investor in the world, aren't you. >> that's true. >> rose: housing seems to be on the increase, certainly in terms of the american economy. people argue that housing recovery will lead economic recovery because it affects so many other industries that are part of the construction industry. do you see, are you enthusiastic about what you see happening in housing. >> yes. i think we started actually buying individual houses from foreclosure about a year and a quarter ago. we're now the largest owner of houses in the united states. >> rose: and you say we're the largest investor in houses in the united states, which
therefore says that we have confidence in the future of the housing market in the united states. >> absolutely. in fact, it turns out to be so even faster than we wanted it to. because housing, as you know, within the last year, has on average gone up around 10%. in the cities where we've been buying, it's gone up 20-25% because housing was so beaten down, right. there were a lot of markets down 40% from the top with very little construction. meanwhile america's about the only developed world country that continues to grow its population. and so as a result of that, you're developing shortages in housing. and because rates are now lower and people are getting more confidence back and the federal reserve has certainly done all it can to encourage the
purchasing of houses. and other types of risk, more risk assets, that that's already turned almost every market in the united states is going up. construction has gone from close to 500,000 houses a year at the bottom to about 900 some odd thousand. and it needs to get back to a million five. so we've already made a good size journey up from the bottoms, but there's a lott more to go. and people have not been replacing the housing stock for the last five to seven years at the rate that they need to, to deal with the population. so your supply demands going to have to get in balance. and when we're very optimistic about this asset class and it's turned out to be so. >> rose: do prepare programs
in america need reform? how secure should people feel with the pension plans that they participate in. >> well pension plans are long term obligations to pay people their retirement benefits. and they have in effect ups and downs as a function of markets and where they invest. it's been a tough last five years for these funds. in large part because the big declines that happened around the financial crises. so they're facing a number of challenges in large part because benefit levels throughout a lot of the last decade or two have been increased. and they have a number of options that are facing them. one of which is to change their rates of return on their investments, which is where we come into that picture because our types of investments over
the last three decades in private equity have been about a thousand bases points which is 10% for people who don't follow finance more than the stock market. our real estate has averaged 16% more than the stock market. and so what you're seeing is one thing that pension funds are doing is decreasing their investments in the regular stock market or the regular bond market, and they're shifting more of their money to the types of things we do because they can repair their situations and make sure that their ben f ruiz get that money by giving money to people like ourselves. so what's happening is they're taking a much more proactive basis to do that. they're looking at other types of things to be done. >> rose: can you raise enough make to make all the investments you want. >> at the moment we're in a
pretty advantageous position because not only are they giving more money to our asset class but they are simplifying the number of managers they give money to. so they're giving it to the better performing managers and they're also trying to lower their own internal overheads by reducing the number of people they have to keep track of. and so for us, we're finding it pretty easy at the moment to be raising funds. we also have the kind of returns that i mentioned in these areas as well as in our fixed income areas that are comparably high so that it becomes a relatively easy decision for them to give us money for which i'm eternally grateful. because i remember starting when we had no assets. >> rose: indeed. you've done something right. one of your investments is sac. are you worried about that. >> well, i can't comment on sac because we have an investment
and it's in the news all the time, so that one is not for global television. >> rose: you can't say whether you're concerned or not about what might happen. >> that one's still not concerned for me to talk about on global television. i can't really address that. >> rose: when you look at hedge funds versus private equity what's the better revenue generator for you. >> private equity's a bigger business. we are the largest investors in the world in hedge funds. and that's a different type of business involving for the most part very liquid securities and using what is called hedging so you're not just, you know, long and believing in investment, you can be long and believing in some investments and you can be pessimistic on other ones and short them. the rates of return on private equity tend to be much higher.
and the reason is that you have control of businesses or control of real estate. you can change the management, you can change the business strategy and it's not passive. and today because people were so traumatized by the financial crises people really want a lot of liquidity. so the kind of longer term investments without liquidity that we do in most of our activities and alternatives basically create an enormous spread between the return on liquids generally and the return on ill liquids. >> rose: you once told me what your best instincts was. you could look at estimate materials and you could see something other people didn't see. there was something that will always stand out to you that was
different that made you take notice as to something. what was that philosophy. >> first of all, you know, we're a little like a doctor, you know, where you start out saying do no harm. first rule, don't lose money. don't take a risk that can put you in a situation where you do lose money. secondly, you want to be looking for an upside that if you make certain changes in a company not only can you do well but you can do very well. on a personal basis, i'm always looking for paradigm shifts. when everything's going one way, most people can figure out how to do something interesting. i'm personally much more engaged on major macro economic shifts. so for example, when real estate collapsed in 1989 to 1992 and we
had the rtc resolution trust company, nobody wanted to buy real estate. it got down to the bottom and somebody brought us a potential investment which we could price anyway we want basically. and we picked a 16% return at the bottom of the cycle with no leverage. i didn't know anything about real estate but i said if we can create a 16% return borrowing no money and then we can borrow a little bit of money on top of it so we're getting like a 23-24% return. when we filled up this 20% vacant set of apartments, in effect that would give us a 45% return. then as the world got still better, the rents would go up and we'd make like 55%. and i didn't see a down side.
and that was the start of our giant real estate business. and each one of the businesses we've gone into, there's always some point of inflection where even when you describe it to other people, they either don't believe it or they're so traumatized by the problems they're already dealing with they don't want to deal with it or people won't finance them because they lose so much money for other people. or they just don't like change. and these aren't hunches, they're based on mathematics and observation. >> rose: and fundamentals. >> it's not trying to go against a crowd, it's basically just seeing that the world has changed and moving on it with enormous confidence, marshalling as many assets as you can and just going for it.
it's in effect what we did in housing that wasn't my perception that was a real estate group led by john gray who is a terrific investor. and that's the way you really do very well in our world. >> rose: thank you for coming. >> my pleasure. >> rose: alan cumming is here. his performance as the mc in a 1998 production of caberet won him a tony and lots of attention. he's been twice nominated for an emmy for his role as ely gold in the cba television series the good wife. and he's acted in many films from jail bonds to the smurf's. he has his own fraggances. starring in scottish play he basis macbeth as well as lady macbeth almost every other part in the drama. it runs at the barrymore theatre until july 14th. i'm pleased to have him at this
table. good to see you. >> you too. >> rose: why this. >> why? that's what i'm asking myself too. it's not easy. it's the most intense thing i've ever done. >> rose: most intense thing you've ever done. >> i mean professionally. because it's not just i play a person who is in psychiatric unit and brought in and then i start to perform macbeth and a few other people play the doctor and the orderly observing me and then as play goes on they in my imagination become part of the play too. so it's bad enough doing macbeth and playing someone who is sort of exercising some things for himself by doing macbeth well. >> rose: do we learn something about macbeth we might not have known. >> well, i think perhaps the emphasis of our production is the mental illness part of macbeth be more present because
i think shakespeare wrote so intelligently and so much earlier than anyone else of early psychology. there's so many things that are fascinating to me. >> rose: most of the people in his plays had some semblance of psychological. >> yes. like lady macbeth the first personality was ocd. >> rose: exactly. and how is it to play both of them. >> it's great. i mean i think in a way, what i like about that couple is that they are really together. when they're together, they're kind of the same passion. when they're apart they just fall apart. they don't function. and it's kind of difficult obviously because basically i have sex with myself in one scene. >> rose: not the first time i'm sure. >> no. better than having sex with someone you love.
but it's, you know, it's kind of amazing. it's an amazing experience for an actor to do that. and i didn't go into it wanting to do it like this. i actually had an idea where i thought it would be interesting for me to play lady macbeth one night and lady macbeth the next. so much the play's about the women and their man. i thought that would be an interesting thing to muck all the genders. i was working with the director and another director andy goldberg who is now codirector, he said i should play all the parts and he had this setting in the psychiatric unit. i was flattered to play those parts. >> rose: wasn't she just a mere image of him, they are opposite of each other. >> there was an argument about the fact it's sort of like everything she wishes for and mastered them, he gets and everything he was is about she
gets. it's an interesting kind of leading each other. it's just really, i'm fascinated by that kind of journey. i actually think it's a great thing that two people who function so well together can do anything. when they stop and one of them pushes the other away they're just ruined. >> rose: where did the idea of the curse of macbeth come from. >> i think it was to do with -- >> rose: you couldn't mention his name on stage. >> or in the theatre. >> rose: the theatre, right. >> how could i get to the full experience of the lady in a scottish play. i'm respectful of the characters but not that much. i researched and i think the real reason that people has become this tradition is that you wouldn't say macbeth because that would mean there's another production. if you were doing a play and you mentioned macbeth it was such a popular play maybe it was going to come in and tired you out.
everyone got, people got banged on the head while they were doing it. but the theatre's a dangerous place. every production of any play people get injured. >> rose: there are gazillion interpretations of hamlet or of macbeth. >> i think so, yes. >> rose: you've been hamlet too. >> i've been hamlet. i think the interesting thing about a new interpretation or a new reimaging if you will is that each generation, there's different things going on in that generation that reflect what's going on. each person brings their own experience and i think that's why there are great plays and why they keep being able to be done and done and done. >> rose: it can be adapted to any age. >> yes. >> rose: all the forces that rule macbeth are forces that rule are in conflict today. >> absolutely. well really it's about the thing i think is essential what i go back to is that moment where you're going to do something bad
or dangerous or elicit, the moment that you look at someone else in the eye and say let's do it. even if it's like stealing an ashtray, let's do it right now. when you make that decision, everybody goes nuts. that's the base of the play is that two people seize an opportunity and when they do, you know. >> rose: how about these lines. the life's but a walking shadow that struts and frets his hour upon the stage and then is heard no more. it is a tale told by the idiot full of sound and fury, signifying nothing. what does that mean to you. >> pretty bleak. it means that macbeth says those lines after lady macbeth has died and i think in our production for me who the character of the man who is coming to the psychiatric unit and macbeth have this real station that you know, life is
so bleak and we're all being told there's more to it and everything. there's this great kind of after life and there's this whole journey we're on and we're not. we're just all -- >> rose: no more, it is a tale to bind the idiot signifying nothing. you can't believe that. >> me. >> rose: yes, alan. >> thanks, charlie. >> rose: look at you. you're doing what you want. you've got -- >> yes. >> rose: you are on with yourself. >> i'm an atheist so if you think -- >> rose: this has to do with heaven and hell. >> yes, i think so. and i think also there's an element that we're all, we all buy into. i mean i guess for me what i learned is seize the day because
actually i'm like that. and i think the realization that it's, you know, i think we all die alone, we all ... >> rose: we go out like we come in. >> yes. and i think that's the key. i've been thinking recently, i got this anesthetic to go under and i felt it's like dying. >> rose: when i went in for heart surgery right before you know go under you they had i may never come back. >> that's right. practicing for death. >> rose: i don't think there's anything else i should say. one more prayer before i close my eyes. >> i hate it when i came out the last time i came out of the anaesthetic i thought obama was like next to me, it was extremely embarrassing. >> rose: you thought he was next to you. >> i thought he was in the next bed. >> rose: did you have a conversation. >> yes. >> rose: about what. >> about everything.
how is it going, you must be exhausted. >> rose: do you think you're going to win. good or bad. >> anyway, you know. >> rose: did you like mitt or not. so what's your favorite line from macbeth? >> i love when lady macbeth says himself is forethat cloaked the fatal entrance under my vitalments. >> rose: say it one more time. >> the raven himself is horse that cloaks fatal entrance of duncan under my vitalments. >> rose: is it hard to learn. >> it's hard to learn the whole play, yes. i did -- >> rose: how do you do it. >> well you just have to buckle
down. i did it last summer in glascow and that's where this production started. it was like five and-a-half weeks into it before i felt i know. >> rose: five and-a-half weeks of rehearsal. >> before i knew i got it. >> rose: once you start, do you ever forget a line. >> oh yes. i kind of make up thing. >> rose: you make them up. >> the worst thing is there's a lot to do and when i'm rambling on i occasionally make mistakes. you never make a mistake in a very famous speech because the audience is saying it along with you. >> rose: it's like singing the star spangled banner. >> i kept getting double toil and trouble wrong. that's not good. >> rose: i did a bit part in the good wife. >> yes, you did. >> rose: what you've god to learn is you've got to learn ever's lines because you got to play off of them and you got to know how long to massachusetts and all that stuff i guess. maybe really actors don't think
about those things. >> you need to know when they're stopping speaking. >> rose: you really do, don't you. >> because otherwise i mean i think learning lineses one of those things that people are not oorksz are not used to it are much, think are much scarier. you've got to do all this research and things listen to people in your ear and be cognizant of many things. and that's a skim i would be sort of nervous about just picking up. >> rose: it's hard compared to acting. >> you think. >> rose: what happened, this production came into being because you and john tiffany did what. >> we did the back together a couple years ago. i wanted to work with john, and then so i suggested macbeth. he had never directed a shakespeare before. so i kind of, you know, told him my idea for that. so we started english readings. then the night of the reading i
thought all these producers were there wanting to do it. andy goldberg the other director was in the audience, a small audience and he kind of came into the mix and this is how it ended up. >> rose: it runs through july something. >> july 14th they barrymore theatre. >> rose: here's what charles issuer of the "new york times" said. watching cumming perform the personalized rendition of macbeth i was intrigued by the brattle going on between the series actor and the shameless entertainer that i was by the tense trouble taking place in the divided minds of macbeth. is there any struggle in you between a series actor and an entertainer. >> no because i think they're the same thing. i think you know, especially in america. this whole thing about legit plays and musical and comedies. i actually think you know if you're an actor you're an actor and i think you have to be, i think with john is he's a showman and i'm a showman as
well. that doesn't mean you're always going to be best, it means you understand the idea of the connection with an audience. >> rose: and you have a wider range that you can do. i mean some people can't be a showman. >> no, some people can't. >> rose: good actors can't be. >> yes, yes. but i think it's a scottish thing. i think it's a real thing about our performance theatre is much more about engaging with the audience and using stuff like, a lot about our political theatre has come from storytelling and songs and kind of traditional things. always very like i like to said people's eyes. i like to look into their eyes and connect with them. i enjoyed, i've been singing a bit, doing concerts over the last few years. and that's been a major because i'm actually connecting with people as me not as a character. and i think that's really what i think we should do as an actor. >> rose: anything you want to
do you haven't done? >> mm-mm, not really. no. i mean i feel like i'm finished but no. i'm content in that way. i don't think i'm striving for, i'm constantly stimulated by people and things. >> rose: are you coming back to caberet? >> i'm not supposed to say i am because it's not been official. >> rose: you can't mention caberet because it's not official. >> yes. >> rose: so you didn't mention it. >> i didn't mention it, but you know. >> rose: take a look at this. i want to see a scene from macbeth before we go. here it is. >> well, it was quickly. the assassination could up the consequence with his success but this blow might be the be all and the end all.
we jump the life to come. in these cases we still have judgment here that we teach bloody instructions which is being taught to plague the inventor with even handed justice commands the poison chalice to our own lips. he's here as i am his kinsman i'm his subject strong bull against the deep. as his host we shoot against the murderer shut the door not there the night myself. >> rose: you said the thing about this production is that it's not only a bit it's also the stupidity of it. what's that mean. >> i think that the idea of doing the whole play yourself nearly. i mean i just think it's -- >> rose: ballsy.
>> yes. this is the thing of everything i've done. i've done some ballsy things but once every while i think i'm going to do this. i don't know if i can do it. it's the most challenging thing. i'm going to try it but with this one, i actually thought i couldn't do it. i thought i wasn't going to be able to put it off. >> rose: is that after you started. >> yes. >> rose: can't do it. sorry, can't do it. >> i didn't say that to anyone. i didn't go actually i can't do it but at home i think i started to panic. so i think that's part, and what i liked about when we did it in scotland and here now is that people are like what, what's he doing. they're intrigued by the madness of me doing this thing. >> rose: first time you heard macbeth was from your brother. >> yes. >> rose: he came home and you said. >> he told me the story of it. i loved it.
>> rose: you knew the place. >> where we lived when i was born, we lived where they stared a train station. and my father's family worked there for generation. >> rose: you then went out and you thought that every play ever written would prefer to your home. >> it was very disappointing to find out. >> rose: my father was scottish near edinberg i understand. even though he was a frazier and rows. fraser is scott i and rose is traditional english name. i'm fascinated by that and people who have become in later life scottish nationalists. have you become that? >> yes. i support the independent campaign. i actually spoke at a luncheon
last year. >> rose: is it going to happen? >> i think it's looking good. i think that it's not until next september. and all of these insane things are happening with the uk government right now can only help highlight scotland's better economic. >> rose: you mean the economic circumstances of the austerity and all of that. >> yes. and the bedroom tax and all these awful thing they're trying to do. scottland is actually, they've actually done better economically than the rest of britain for many years now. and i think that's a lot to do with evolution. since evolution's about 15 years old in the parliament and some decisions can be made there. but not some of the important ones like tax and things like that. so it's actually changed the country radically having that. not being able to blame england for everything. >> rose: yes. and may be responsible.
>> i don't know. i think there's such a huge change to make if you go back to being independent after so many years, so many centuries. but i really feel it's a good thing and i support that and i'm going to help out where i can. >> rose: i'll show you one more scene. here's macbeth. this is you a young alan cumming talking about his rise to fame at the caberet at an interview i did in 1998, you and i at this table. that's 15 years ago. roll tape. >> things have been changing dramatically throughout my life over the years. n't being, i never even thought i would move to london i thought i would live in scottland and maybe television now and then. when i started a did a lot of community tours and going over the time holds. once there was a sheep coming into the theatre. it was in the middle of ireland.
it's such a big change, it's really quite extraordinary to think. >> rose: it happened to you. >> yes. and it's not at all, it's not like i didn't want that and i wanted this, it's just this is what's happened. and i couldn't have been as happy doing that i think. sometimes i would like to have gold and sheep in my wake. >> rose: we do a thing here because whenever we talk about shakespeare we ask a question for a series that i, an ongoing series i do. it's simply this. why shakespeare? >> i think he has things to say about the human condition that's so incredible and so relevant and so kind of pen traiting and curious. every time i do that i'm just amazed about the debts.